Hurricane Ian is bearing down on Florida, and Governor Ron DeSantis is ordering residents to evacuate. Tampa officials made the announcement today, Monday, Sept. 26. Additionally, the Gulf Islands National Seashore has closed Florida areas in preparation.
“We did not make this decision easily, but the storm poses a serious threat, and we must do everything we can to protect our residents,” said Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise in a press conference. This order impacts an estimated 300,000 residents in parts of Hillsborough County. Cuba and the Florida Keys are preparing to be the first to get hit by Ian, as the winds have reached 85 mph by this afternoon.
Officials are estimating that the winds will reach 120 mph, and Wise recommends residents seek shelter at least 20 miles inland. Mandated shelters will most likely be crowded and limited space. Additionally, residents are starting to hoard water and supplies, and gas stations reported long lines over the weekend.
Areas are designated at-risk or flood zones using an alphabetical ranking system A through F. A is the most at-risk while F is the least. If you live in Florida, be sure to check your flood zone and evacuation procedures. Currently, parts of Tampa Bay are under an A evacuation order, while others are under a voluntary B order.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister shared at the press conference that the police department would be patrolling evacuated areas. The aim is to protect against property theft or other disturbances, said Chronister.
Florida Calls for Evacuations for an Estimated 300,000 Residents While Preparing for Hurricane Ian
“This is a really, really big hurricane,” said Governor DeSantis. He shared that Ian is currently stretching about 500 miles and could potentially impact the entire state. DeSantis predicted heavy flooding in Tampa and said officials distributed medical personnel, ambulances, water pumps, and generators in parts of Hillsborough County.
Additionally, 5,000 National Guard personnel are on standby, with 2,000 others from nearby states and search and rescue teams prepared to respond to calls. The main problem that comes with hurricanes is the mad rush to the grocery stores to clear out shelves of supplies. In an effort to make sure everyone gets adequate supplies, DeSantis warned residents to only take what they need.
“There’s no need to panic buy,” said the governor. He also mentioned that state officials are working with retailers to make sure stores remain stocked with supplies. Additionally, residents should coordinate with pharmacies to make sure all medications are filled and collected for the next 30 days. According to Florida Health, in a state of emergency, residents are permitted to receive early refills on prescription medication.
When evacuating, it’s also crucial that you make accommodations for your pets as well. Don’t leave them behind when evacuating. Take them with you wherever you go, or take them to friends or family if they live outside of an evacuation zone.